The Four Main Views of Revelation 14:6-13

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as the theme of the prophecy concerning the fall of Rome, and that we can trust God. The eternal gospel is the importance of solid biblical preaching. Preaching is not done by the angels; rather, they represent and show the call to us as well as the announcement of doom for those who fail to bring the salvation message. In addition, they announce doom to those who are evil and wicked and who refuse God. Babylon refers to Jerusalem and its wickedness, its unfaithfulness, and its betrayal to God and to Christ, refusing to allow the Gospel to be proclaimed; hence, the reason for Rome being used as the judgment tool. Some in this camp see Babylon as a cryptic reference to Rome or only referring to Rome after the fall of Jerusalem. Drink of the wine of God’s fury is seen as an image of hell and suffering for the wicked. Smoke of their torment is seen as the example of Sodom and Gomorrah and God’s vengeance. Blessed are the dead is seen as the righteous being taken care of and blessed and/or the eternal bliss of heaven.

The Futurist view: They see the eternal gospel as two different gospels—one of John the Baptist and one of Christ. Or, they see the Gospel as being a different one from the Church Age proclaimed after the Church has been raptured. Most believe the angels are figurative because, in their view, angels do not evangelize. Others see this as the Good News for the faithful as God unleashes His judgment and vengeance. It is extraordinary that they can come up with so many views of the Gospel or that there are many types of gospels, when the Bible only teaches one. Others in this camp see this as a summons to repent, which it is. Babylon is viewed as the great tribulation or that it is close. Others see it as literal city to be rebuilt, the rise of a persecuting political power, or the character of evil and a symbol of ungodliness as depicted by that ancient city. Others see it as a false church rising in the future. The drink of the wine of God’s fury is God’s judgment on those who take the “mark of the beast.” Full strength, referring to His judgment and wrath, is not to be tampered with. Blessed are the dead is seen as the martyrs receiving their reward and/or to die for Christ is our gain from Phil 1:21. Others see it as a term for faithfulness and the rewards thereof. 

The Idealist view: They see the angels as symbolic and the eternal gospel not the gospel of the New Testament but a last call for repentance and the call of judgment just before the end of days. Others see it as the Gospel of the New Testament being offered because of the term everlasting. Babylon is a symbol for humanity in rebellion and opposition to God, its seduction and ungodliness and/or governments which trick people away from God. Drink of the wine of God’s fury is a warning of the seductions of evil and judgment to those who do not heed God’s love and plan. And, His plan will be on full force without opposition, so get with it or else. Smoke of their torment is a symbol for the fires of hell and punishment. Blessed are the dead and patience are the rewards for staying loyal to God who gives us strength and answers our faithfulness with affirmation. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as symbolic of the rise and fall of the anti-Christian governments and powers over time. Thus, the eternal gospel is not thwarted by men because it is powered by God. The angels represent the various mission movements and/or the Great Awakenings and rise of evangelism. As well as the destruction of Babylon, Babylon as this time in Revelation is seen as evil Papal Rome and judgment to those whose allegiance is to them or to any form of fornication to God. The smoke of their torment is seen as hell and the results of judgment, and its people having no regret or remorse for their life choices or where they ended up. Blessed are the dead is seen as the resting place of the faithful and something we can look forward to.

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Exegetical look into Revelation 14:9-13

 

  • Worships the beast and his image and receives his mark refer to Chapter 13; will it be our loyalty to Christ or our loyalty to evil?
  • He, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury. The image here is that God will judge the infidelity and betrayal of faith; you can bank on it (Ezek. 23:31; 38:22; Jer. 49:12; Hab. 23:16; Zech. 12:2; Rev. 2:21)!
  • God’s fury… wrath refers to God’s passion, as His Wrath is just, and His fervent anger at sin.
  • Cup of his wrath. This means God’s right to be angry at sin and those who disobey Him and refuse righteousness, those who fight against the righteous and refuse Christ’s love and grace. Wine was given to condemned criminals. This was also a connection to Isaiah and his prophecy of Edom’s downfall—how sin cases us to fall (Psalm 75:8; Is. 34:10; 51:17; Jer. 25:15; Mark 15:35).
  • Tormented. This is a reference that those who are evil judge themselves by knowingly refusing God and His offer of grace. This may also show that the wicked will not be annihilated (Rev.19:20; 20:10). 
  • Burning sulfur…smoke means desolation, a reference to Sodom and Gomorrah and the evil they represented, and the fate of those who are wicked. This is also a picture of God’s right to judge and His vengeance (Gen.19; Psalm 11:6; Is. 34:8-10; Rev. 4:8; 12:10; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8).
  • Patience/Patient endurance/perseverance refers to our assurance and the resolve of our faith. If we are not patient, we will never see how God indeed cares for us. Endurance is a call to remain faithful and keep our trust in Christ no matter what comes our way in sufferings or temptations. We are to focus on His Way, even in persecution and stress. This is a prominent theme in Revelation (Rev. 1:9; 2:2-3, 13, 19; 3:10; 6:11; 13:10; 14:12; 16:15; 18:4; 20:4; 22:7,11,14).
  • Obey God’s commandments refers to people who think God does not have the right to judge, who think judgment will not come about or apply to them, or who think that since God is about love and mercy, He will not judge. Thus, a warning is given to the Christian against apathy and complacency as well as against liberalism and relativism; it will be severely judged as it is a disgrace to a Holy God of Truth! If you force your ideas as God’s or manipulate others away from solid biblical precepts, judgment and grace are at your door. To open the door of grace, we have to repent; to open the judgment door, all we have to do is just remain in our pride!
  • Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. This is where we get our phrase, “rest in peace,” a common funeral saying; it comes from the extra biblical texts of 1 Enoch 99:13-14; 103:3 and refers to the hope that suffering is for a purpose, as it is. Our sufferings and toils will end; our great reward awaits us, literally, in eternity. This also means we should be joyful and happy being in the Lord no matter what we face. In contrast, the wicked will not have rest (Phil. 1:21; Rev. 13:10; 22:12).
  • Their deeds will follow them. This refers to what we take with us into eternity. It is not material possessions; rather, our faith and character, who we are in Christ, our growth in Him, and what we did with what He gave us is what will resonate to God and will be the basis of our reward. Thus, what the wicked chase in their sensational self-gratification will end up as meaningless and of no true lasting value (Matt. 6:20-21; James 5:2).

Exegetical look into Revelation 14: 6-8

 

  • Eternal gospel refers to the “good news” of Christ and a summons to repent as clearly stated in verse seven (7): fear God and give him glory…Worship him. Fear God (Prov. 3:5; Luke 1:50; 12:5; Acts 10:35; 14:15), give Him Glory (Matt. 5:16; 9:8; 15:31), judgment is coming (John 12:23-32; 16:8-11), and worship Him (Acts 14:15; 17:24-31) are the basic applications of the Gospel, which is the work of Christ on our behalf, the Good News of reconciliation to God for those who are sinners (Hab. 2:4; Rom.10 1; John 17:17; Cor.15:1-4).
  • Every nation… Refers to the theme of the passage—allegiance; our allegiance is to Christ by His sacrificial work, not to political power, or people’s agendas. Being in Christ means we are a part of a greater Kingdom (Matt. 28: 18-20; Rev. 5:9).
  • Him who made the heavens refers to God who is Sovereign and Creator and Who is in charge—meaning command and control—a God we can indeed trust and resound to with our love and faith (Ex. 20:11; Psalm 146:6).
  • Springs of water, an image of great comfort. In context, this assures the Faithful of who God is and what He can do. This contains the images of a God who is forever faithful, remains true, is worthy of praise, and whose  love endures forever so we can realize and grasp that our help comes from the LORD (Psalm 33:6; 89:11-13; 96:4-5; 104:2-9; 124:8; 134:3; 136:4-9; 146:6)!
  • Babylon the Great refers to Isaiah’s mockery of sin and those who follow it as a “harlot” follows sin. This is about the bad character of evil that is depicted by that ancient city. It is a contrast of evil governments in antagonism to God and God’s Kingdom, the captivity of the Jews under Babylon and its moral decadence, and the early Christians under Rome, which was also steeped in immorality. This is also a reference to how people are led into captivity to sin. This was also a metaphor that meant to sin and fall into seduction, what lures us away from faith and what replaces faith. The application of seduction is corruption and this can range from pagan worship and atheism to following what is fruitless and meaningless, all while ignoring our Lord. This is not necessarily referring to one specific specious person or entity or political system, but to what evil is in general. It does not mean that Babylon will be rebuilt or restored in some way. This theme is about enmity to God and people’s participation in it, which is in direct contrast to what Christ offers and is—Pure and Holy (Is. 21:9; Jer. 51:7-8; Dan. 2:35, 4:30; 44; Rev. 13:1-18; 16:19; 17:1-5; 18:3; 18:2, 10, 21, also 4 Ezra).
  • Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great refers to Jeremiah’s prediction of the fall of historical Babylon and how God is in control of evil and the powers of people and governments, and that their judgment is upon them. Babylon, who sacked Israel, carried away the treasures and the best people as a part of God’s judgment for Israel’s unfaithfulness; the restoration was about God’s grace and faithfulness. This theme of hope, victory and grace for the faithful and judgment for the wicked is predominating in the last days (Dan. 2:35-44). 
  • Made all the nations drink means intoxication, and is referring to being lured and tempted. Adultery with shrine prostitutes and pagan worship were the biggest temptations to the Early Church. Their society said this was OK and it was beyond fun, but the consequences were as grave as they are to us today (Judges 17:6; James 2: 14-26). Our call is to stay away from the influence of evil, to be self-controlled, and to never portray evil as being good as the pagans do (Rom. 6:1-2; 14-15; 13:8, 10; Gal. 5:14; 6:2; Gal. 5:22-25; Jude 4). 
  • Maddening wine means drunkenness and the shame that results. What seems fun has consequences and causes disgrace to us and all who see and know about it. This is spiritual adultery against God by seeking to replace Him with our whims and plans, and/or following others who are evil. The chastisement comes when we are willing participants, faithfully and deliberately seeking evil and thus ignoring, and consequently forfeiting Christ’s love and redemption. This is classic relativism in the face of a world that is not really relative. We are in a society that loves and teaches relativism, yet when a CEO of a company practices what he or she learned in higher education, he or she is put in jail for fraud. Relativism and sin are contradictory to each other and only cause havoc.
  • Adulteries means the effect of sexual immorality, and chasing what is wrong and false because of spiritual deceitfulness and betrayal. Immorality produces foolishness and shame for everyone involved, even when they refuse to admit to it, choosing rather to remain in sin. This also involves harboring sin and iniquity in our hearts and minds while thinking we are OK (Prov. 9:13-18; Jer. 51:7).

Revelation 14:6-13

Introduction 

The Three Angels 

John now sees more angels flying around and about in Heaven; such a scene could not be expressed in mere words. These angels were conveying the Good News of God, the salvation that is offered by the work of Christ through the proclamation of the Spirit. They are challenging the people who bow to the world’s ways to look to God, reverence Him, and get away from sin; it is a message of hope and grace to those who do not deserve it. Then, another angel appears to warn of judgments to those who refuse God’s love, judgments from their own hand and actions. Then a third angel appears and gives even more dire warnings against sin and disloyalty to God. God is patient but He will not always keep His patience and will eventually, in His good time, condemn those whose hearts seek sin rather than seeking Him. God is patient, but He is also jealous and will not tolerate sin and blasphemy. All of humanity is called to Him so there is no excuse to reject His election and salvation. We are called to accept and worship Christ and His Way, yet most will only accept and worship sin and evil ways. The end of the road can either be incredible bliss and wonder or eternal struggle and toil; we are given the choice and the Spirit to lead us to the correct choice—even God who pays our way. 

This passage is about vindication. The Hebrew and other ancient cultures believed that what angels in heaven did reflected events on earth. Thus, this imagery is common, but not necessarily literal although it certainly could be; it is an illustration to make a grand point. These angelic messengers proclaim hope for the faithful and fear for the wicked. All those who suffered and were faithful will see those who were evil and connived against them face judgment. The judgment is also merciful as God keeps offering His love and grace even though they do not deserve it, yet evil seeks its own and refuses Him and His Way. This passage brings comfort, as we will see that what we went through in life had a reason and purpose to it. Those of faith do not toil in vain; our lives have meaning and reason (Is. 21:9; Nahum1:15; Matt. 24:14; Rev. 12:7)! 

When you are facing a crisis or just need a boost, what can be done to give you comfort and reassurance?

What does Revelation 13:11-18 mean to us now?

 

Who are the beasts in your life?

Once in a sermon, Augustine asked his people if any of them was antichrist, as in opposing Christ, in character or unfaithfulness. The 1 John definition of antichrist, the only place in Scripture this term appears, simply means anyone who opposes Christ. It isn’t about an ominous opposing personality rising up and tricking us; rather, it is about our willingness to be tricked. God gives us a mind and incredible resources of His Spirit and Word; we have no excuse to be disloyal to our Lord. The call here is to heed the warning, not engage in vain speculation; rather, we are to make sure we are lined up to Him, loyal to our LORD! This means that as we lead our lives and run our churches, we have to seek Him and ask, are we being disloyal to our Lord? If so, guess what? The antichrist is not a political figure; it is you! We are the ones who are opposing Christ! This aspect is far more important that the speculations, because it all comes down to one thing, loyalty. Are you devoted to Christ or a slave to your will and to the manipulations of others? 

This passage could also mean that Christians may think that as long as they are not worshipping in a pagan temple, they are OK; but, to be loyal to evil or compromise God’s Word is worshipping something that is not of God! What we can do is trust Christ and be prepared, and that is John’s message to us. Stand firm in faith and do not be carried away with trivialities or intense persecution. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. Why do these sings and wonders astonish people and, in turn, greatly deceive them? Do you believe people are personally responsible for allowing themselves to be deceived?
  1. What do you think this image is? What do you think the purpose is for the statue/image? How would you react to see this image come to life and speak? What would be the motivation for people to worship it?
  1. What do you see as the danger of the beast to us today, either personally or to the Church? What about relativism, diminishing values as Christians, replacing biblical teaching with faulty trends, and faulty logic and thinking?
  1. Why are there countless speculations on the mark and the number 666? Why would a pastor desire to preach by his personality and ignorance and not out of the Scriptures?
  1. What does it mean to you, as a Christian, to be watchful and loyal? Do you believe that when the beast does come there will be no mistaking of his identity? Then, how and why will Christians be tricked? What can we do to prevent ourselves from being deceived?

 © 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 13:11-18

 

The Preterist view: There are three prevailing theories in this camp about who or what this second beast is. First, it might be a representation of the emperor worship cult that was estranging Christians economically and socially as they were being forced to worship Caesar and disown Christ; it was an ultimate test of loyalty. Were they willing to lose everything for our Lord’s sake? Are you? The second theory is that this is about a religious persecutor either from within the Church or outside, because of the designation of the two horns, such as pagan religions influencing or persecuting the Church or false prophets from within the Church doing so. The third theory is that this beast represents local or geographical persecutions such as governors of local provinces because of the land/earth and under authority references, Others have said it could be corrupt internal religious leaders or Jews attacking the Church (Matt. 7:15; 23). The image of the beast is seen as paying honor and homage to Rome, as Jews did during their occupation.  From the Hebrew translation of Greek numerical values, 666 is seen as a cryptogram for Nero. The mark and buying and selling are seen as a boycott of Christian products and services meant to ruin them economically. Others see it as the corrupt Jewish officials forcing faithful Jews out of business. 

The Futurist view: They see this second beast not as strong a persecutor of the Church, coming in disguise as a faithful Christian (because of the two horns), and then tricking people into worshipping the beast. This may be a counterfeit Jewish messiah or a slick false preacher who is the “false prophet” mentioned in Rev. 16:13. Others see it as the corruption of the Church. Others see him as the antichrist. The image brings all kinds of speculations—from an idol coming to life to a robot. Most believe it is technology that is key and God can’t do anything until the technology is right and ready; this ignores His sovereignty and omnipotence! Some see this as the rebuilt Temple captivating people. The mark and buying and selling are seen as the world changing to a cashless society, ripe for corruption and control by the antichrist. The mark is seen as a computer chip implanted in people. This 666 is seen as a theme for apostasy in the Church or world; others see it as the antichrist and still others see it as a literal number tattooed on people’s foreheads. Others see it as a symbol of man’s defiance of God. Such theories may be possible (a big stretch at least), but usually are ridiculous and miss the main point of the passage. 

The Idealist view: They see this beast as a support to the first beast and dragon, unified in strategy and purpose. Most see it as false prophets and teachers in the church or a singular master false teacher. Another view is that it is false theology, paganism, and/or other forms of extreme corruption in the Church. Some see the Church switching its focus from serving God to serving governments and/or current trends and secular thinking. The image is seen as conforming to nationalism and being disloyal to Christ and/or actual signs and wonders meant to deceive people. The mark and buying and selling are seen as one’s life philosophy and choosing loyalty to God or to the world. Others see this as economic boycotts and pressures on the Church. The 666 is seen as a representation of impurity and corruption, or false religions. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as the Church going into apostasy, or those who blaspheme holiness and persecute the faithful. The first beast is the corruption of the Papacy and the second beast is the corruption of the priesthood. The second beast, as with the first, is seen as emphasizing the corrupt priests under the corrupt Catholic Papacy. Others focus on “Charlemagne” and the Holy Roman Empire around 800 AD and/or oppressive ecclesiastical power, or perhaps the emperors of Rome. Image is seen as false or alleged miracles, appearances of Mary and such being used to manipulate people down through the centuries to the corrupt practices of the Church. The 666 is seen by Irenaeus’s perspective as a representation of the last of Daniel’s Kingdoms and/or the “Lateinios,” the Latin reign and language of the Church, keeping God’s precepts from the common people as a control mechanism. The mark and buying and selling are seen as the corruption of worship practices and/or the Papal powers controlling the economics of Europe during the Middle Ages.

Six hundred and sixty-six!

What does 666 mean?  

It is a symbol typical of first century Jewish apocalyptic riddles usually known to the audience being written to; John’s readers knew who he was talking about. It perhaps referred to Nero, and thus was a warning about making loyalty-oaths to Caesar. It was not a secret code to the hearers, only to those outside of the Church such as Roman officials. 

This was also a common way to express or warn about godlessness or those opposing Christ (could be attributed to a specific person such as Nero, or to any person in opposition to right and God) while avoiding unnecessary reprisals. Some commentators have said this is “the trinity of evil”, referring to the number of the antichrist who seeks to combat God and His people. This is called in the Greek a “triangular number;” it is used as a parody or a word play in the first century, referring to someone or something else. 

It was also a cryptic code word that referred to Nero, using the Hebrew translation of the Greek numerical values. This type of code is called “gamatria” where each of the letters in the Greek or Hebrew has an equivalent numerical value, such as alpha stands for one. This was not secret but common Jewish thinking; Jesus, in the Greek (IhsouV), has a numerical correspondent to 888. Some early Christian thinkers, such as Irenaeus, have attributed this to Euanthas or Lateinos or Teitan; Martin Luther thought it might refer to a Pope Benedict, and to other various evil Popes. 

In addition, 666, as a number, is diametrically opposed to the perfection of the number seven which means fullness and completeness. Thus, the theory of the numerical value is that a future antichrist may have a name equal in numerical value to 666 when it is written in Greek. “Nero Caesar” is 666 in the Greek when transliterated from the Hebrew (Matt. 24:15, 36-51). 

There is no reason or call to seek to decode this; it is not about the world’s population hitting 6,666,666,666 that may have happened in Nov 2006, or some mathematicians’ theory or whatever the theory of the day is. The plain meaning, is far more important to us than what speculators have come up with… 

Which is? That we are to be watchful to those who oppose Christ and make sure we are not opposing Christ in thought, word, or deed, taking oaths, or making promises that counter Christ’s principals!